Saturday, February 6, 2016

Taking Over Taiwan: Yehliu Geopark

Tracy frequently posts photos and recaps of all her adventures on her blog, Tracy Jo Travels, so I had been creating a list of "Must Sees" while in Taiwan. Of course, I had many things to see on my day in Taipei and various things to do around Tracy's hometown, but we were on the hunt for a good weekend activity. It was a toss up between seeing the monkeys in Kaohsiung and climbing on the natural rock formations in Yehliu Geopark. As Tracy had recently visited the monekys for a second time (and I see monkey on the regular while in Rio #snobby), we decided to go to Yehliu.

We spent Saturday morning scootering around Hsinchu, visiting the mangroves, spending a morning at the ocean (Notice that's ocean, not beach. There is a difference.), and putting ourselves into a food coma via Passion Fruit Yogurt Gree Tea and chicken rice wraps from 7/11 (if you are in Taiwan and don't consume either of these, you are dead to me). 

Sometime in the afternoon we boarded the train for Taipei where we checked in to Six Star Hostel, which is the nicest hostel that I have ever stayed in. Seriously, it was nicer than most hotels that I frequent. Tracy and I stayed a shared dorm room and each bed came with a private locker (and lock) and TV within the bunk bed and black out curtains. Unfortuantely, the black out curtains don't block out the sound of your dormmate's cell phone ringing for 30 minutes at 6am. Yeah, I'm still a little salty about that. Another plus is that the bathrooms come with a whole control panel for your toilet which could, honestly, keep you busy for awhile. Oh, all of this was $17 per person. Talk about bang for your buck.

After being spoiled by a sunny and warn day on Saturday, we were pretty bummed to walk out of the hostel and be met with a pretty steady rainfall. The good news is that rain ponchos are quite fashionable in Taiwan, so we just popped into the corner 7/11 (which are seriously everywhere and are your one stop shop for EVERYTHING in Taiwan) to buy some ponchos and change into flip flops. And to purchase my daily Passion Fruit Yogurt Green Tea and chicken rice wrap, girl's gotta eat. 

We took the train to Keelung where we then waited for a tourist bus to take us to Yehliu Geopark. Basically it's various rocks that have been formed by different types of erosion and weathering (Could this be a 4th grade field trip? Seriously, it fits right in.) and it's actually way cooler than it sounds. The sun made a grand appearance for a couple of hours, so we were able to give our high-end fashion ponchos a break. Tracy and I spent all afternoon wandering around, checking out the different formations-- some of them famous (hello, Queen's Head and some of them not. In typical Taiwan fashion, we were also the stars of a number of group photos with strangers. 

It began to rain after a couple of hours and that was our cue to leave. Ponchos came back out to play and we waited by the tourist bus stop for thirty minutes. An hour. An hour and a half. Almost two hours. At which point we were no longer staying warm inside 7/11 and the bathrooms were closed so I couldn't have another Passion Fruit Yogurt Green Tea and the dumplings at the self-service counter were looking a little sketch anddddd then we realized that public transportation leaves for Taipei every 15 minutes and we were probably the dumbest people on the planet. 

One HSR ride later (another check off the ol' Taiwan bucket list) and our weekend of adventures came to a close.

Seriously, Taiwan, like Rio, has a little bit of everything. Beaches, oceans, mountains, cities. There's something for everything and I was blessed to experience a small part of it for a weekend. Next trip to Taiwan will include a visit to the monkeys.

For all the seasoned travelers looking to explore Taiwan (especially Yehliu Geopark)--
We took a local train from Taipei to Keelung. It left the Taipei Main Station and cost about NTD40 ($1.20USD). The trip out there took about an hour or so. Once arriving in Keelung, we caught a tourist bus to the Geopark. To get to the tourist bus, walk outside of the train station and continue straight ahead. You will cross a pedestrian bridge and on your right you will see a Tourist Center. At the tourist center, you will see a map of the two different lines you can take and the places each will stop. The Geopark is the last stop on one of the lines, but I can't remember which one. It cost NTD50 ($1.50USD) and the drive took about an hour.

The tourist bus dropped us off (and should have picked us up) right at the entrance of the Geopark. The entrance fee was approximately NTD80 ($2.42USD). You could receive discounted tickets if you present an international student ID. There's also free lockers within the visitors center.

I don't know how much the bus cost to get home because I paid with my Easy Card, but I know that we turned right out of the visitors center and followed that road until it came to a T and the bus stop was right there. According to Google Maps, the bus comes every 15 minutes or so and we didn't wait very long. The bus dropped us off at the Taipei Main Station in Taipei about an hour later.

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